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Coming all the way back

  • Pat Pelletier reacts to a missed putt during the New Hampshire Golf Association 2020 Stroke Play Championship at the Montcalm Golf Club in Enfield, N.H., on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ryan Kohler walks off the 18th tee during the New Hampshire Golf Association 2020 Stroke Play Championship at the Montcalm Golf Club in Enfield, N.H., on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Mark Stevens prepares for his putt during the New Hampshire Golf Association 2020 Stroke Play Championship at the Montcalm Golf Club in Enfield, N.H., on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/15/2020 9:33:36 PM
Modified: 8/15/2020 9:36:56 PM

ENFIELD — Pat Pelletier’s gotten a little possessive about the New Hampshire Golf Association Stroke Play Championship. It’s like he owns it or something.

That said, the Carter Country Club golfer was prepared to give up the trophy on Friday, knowing how much leaderboard distance stood between him and an old college buddy at the top. Until that distance evaporated.

Pelletier made up eight strokes on two-day leader Mark Stevens, then shook off a late bogey to beat Ryan Kohler in a sudden-death playoff at Montcalm Golf Club to retain his Stroke Play crown for a third straight year. Factoring the time he missed the amateur event while pursuing a professional golf career, Pelletier figures he’s won the Stroke Play four of the last five times he’s entered.

He might run out of space for those glass championship trophies soon.

“I really didn’t think I had a chance of winning,” Pelletier confessed afterward. “I have a chance to shoot 6, 7 under any given day, but if (Stevens) shoots 1, 2 over, that puts me — at best — tied. I would have had to play flawless golf for that to happen.”

Pelletier wasn’t flawless, but with a final-round tally of 4-under-par 68 and a tourney finish of 7-under 209 (70-71-68), he was pretty darned good.

Stevens, Pelletier’s two-year roommate and golf teammate at the University of Rhode Island, held a five-shot lead on fellow Beaver Meadow Golf Course competitor Jim Cilley and at least an eight-stroke advantage on everyone else as Friday dawned. Whatever helped Stevens to that dominant spot abandoned him on the final day.

The 33-year-old bogeyed four holes over Montcalm’s rolling front nine while Pelletier amassed a front-side 33 to close within a shot of the top.

The lead changed hands with a Stevens bogey on 10 and a Pelletier birdie on the par-5 11th, which features a blind landing area off the tee before a long carry over wetlands for those who dare to reach the green in two shots.

Kohler, the former Fall Mountain High athlete who won the Stroke Play eight years ago, stayed on Pelletier’s heels, catching him when Pelletier bogeyed the par-3 17th. It took an up-and-down par on 18 for Pelletier to force the playoff, which he won with a par on the par-4 first hole. Kohler also shot a final-round 68.

“Very low expectations as far as a finishing result; it was just try and come out and shoot something under par,” said Kohler, who played himself into contention with an 8-under 64 in Thursday’s second round after a first-day 77. “I wasn’t kind of thinking of chasing down the leader, being eight shots back. But by the time I made the turn, it became kind of realistic.”

For Pelletier, the door cracked open early.

The Lebanon High graduate birdied 1, 5 and 8 to reach 6 under for the week as Stevens boarded the bogey train. Cilley, in the same threesome, was at 6 under at the day’s start, but he bogeyed 4, 5, 7 and 9 to fall back.

Stevens’ three-putt bogey on 10 brought him level with Pelletier. A bogey-double bogey follow-up on 12 and 13 ended his competitive chances.

“He’s a great person,” Pelletier said of Stevens. “He’s probably one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Anyone who knows me knows I can get mad when I play golf sometimes. He never once got to where it showed. He just had an off day.”

Montcalm’s opening hole is an uphill dogleg right of nearly 400 yards. Pelletier spent the tourney cutting the corner, becoming comfortable hitting his approaches from between mounds on the fairway’s right side.

Kohler overcooked his second shot of the playoff, leaving his ball on a slope behind and above the hole, the worst place to be. Although Pelletier didn’t sink his 12-foot birdie attempt, Kohler couldn’t convert a 5-foot downhiller for an up-and-down par. Pelletier then tapped home for his own par and his third straight Stroke Play trophy.

“It was just nice to have a chance at the end,” he said.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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